Wednesday transcripts

Posted Oct 5, 2011



Opening Comments:
ML: “With Bobbie Williams, we will return him to practice today and then make a decision at some point later in the week on whether or not we’ll activate him.

“Secondly, with Cedric (Benson), as you all have reported, there’s nothing new to say.

“Lastly, the Jaguars, most importantly. They are a physical football team up front on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they’ve got some real physical rushers. The front group is good. They’re very athletic at linebacker. They’ve been playing defense pretty close to the vest and not giving up a lot of big plays. That’s how they’ve started the season. They gave up some rushing yards last week, but that’s not been characteristic for the most part this season.

“On offense, obviously, they’ve made the switch to Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. He came out last week and he handled the situation well. He did a really good job. They spread the field some and gave him some throws. He was on time with the throws.

“As I said earlier this week, Maurice Jones-Drew is another fine back. The last few weeks we’ve played really good backs, and they just keep getting better. He’s a good runner – a strong runner – and one that you’ve got to be very sound against. They have a big tight end in Marcedes Lewis; he’s a really good player. The outside guys have good speed and quickness.

“In the kicking game, they have some guys that have played at a very high level throughout their careers. So it’s a well put-together football team, and we have to play really well on the road. We have to get off to a good start ourselves and keep doing the things that we’re doing and getting better.”

You got to take a good look at Blaine Gabbert during the draft process. What are his strengths and how do they fit into the system they have in Jacksonville?
ML: “His strength is the fact that he played college football in an offense where he got an opportunity to throw the football quite a bit. He gets the ball in and out of his hand quick. He’s a big man in stature – about six-foot-five -- and he’s got a good release. He’s been a quarterback all his life. That’s what he grew up being, that’s what his brother is. It’s part of the family. Things come very innately to him. He’s good learner with good temperament, and he was a great leader at Missouri, and he has stepped in and done a good job in Jacksonville.”

Bobbie Williams looks visibly slimmer. Were you happy to see what he did while he was away from the team?
ML: “I was. He used the time to benefit himself both physically and mentally.”

It looks like the decision on Cedric Benson’s possible suspension has been delayed enough that you’ll have his services for at least this week’s game. Are you hoping that there’s some kind of decision within the next week just to get it over with?
ML: “Only so that you can quit talking and asking about it (laughs).”

But if the decision is delayed too much longer, there is a stretch of division games in a few weeks that he could miss if the suspension is upheld:
ML: “At the end of the year, they all count the same. The only little bit of difference is the tie-breaker situation. If he’s suspended, if it’s changed, if it’s upheld, if it’s reduced ... whatever it is, it’s what they decide and we’ll go from there.

Is Maurice Jones-Drew similar to a player like Ray Rice of Baltimore?
ML: “He’s very similar to Ray Rice. I don’t know exactly the dimensions or who’s taller, but he’s that kind of runner. They’re guys who are quick and fast and who can make small openings become big plays. He’s a great receiver. They do a lot of things with him catching to football, similar to Ray Rice. So that’s a very good comparison.”

Can you speak to the job Mike Nugent has done in coming back from his knee injury last season?
ML: “Getting hurt in early November, Mike had to work very, very hard. With his physician in Columbus and being able to rehab at Ohio State, he just did a tremendous job in getting himself back. We had an opportunity to take a look at him when the thing opened up for a few days (when the lockout was briefly lifted in April). Obviously that’s the first part of it, and the second part is actually going out and kicking and doing things. He had to work very hard being away from here. He could have been one of the people who would have been a casualty from not being around here. But he stayed on task and was very diligent with his rehab, working out and progressing but not overdoing it, which can give you other problems.

“From having Mike last year, we’ve been able to better manage him as far as his workload. Darrin (Simmons, special teams coach) has done a nice job of that as far as his practice workload and what we ask him throughout the week.

“You’ve got to be happy for a guy to come back from what he came back from. It was a play where he executed it wonderfully (onside kick at Indianapolis), but he just caught his foot in the turf and went down without being hit. It was unfortunate, but I’m very happy for him.”

It showed at the end of the Buffalo game how much confidence you have in Nugent, considering you let the time run down before his kick instead of opting to run a play to get closer. Did you think about running maybe one more play to get a little closer, or was a 43-yard field goal perfectly fine?
ML: “Perfectly fine. Right where he wanted it.”

Your specialists and defense have done a nice job of dictating field position. How much does that help a young QB like Andy Dalton?
ML: “You have to. And as I said in here on Monday, those are the things that I knew would be important, and thought would be important in April and in June, July, August, September. And they still stay important here on October 5. That’s the way we have to play. You want to make the other team have to go the length of the field. We’re going to have an opportunity to make a play, and let’s put us in the short field as often as we can.

“I think (punter) Kevin (Huber) has had a great start to the season, as has Mike (Nugent), and we just have to keep it up. As the fall comes in here now and the weather changes here a bit, there are going to be some changes. That’s why hopefully our other 10 guys that are out there with those guys will keep honing into shape. We have to keep coaching them very hard and getting them in the right spots all of the time with the right fits so that when these balls start getting returned, we’re in good position.”

The defense has been great on third downs and forcing three-and-outs. How important has that been?
ML: “That’s the essence of defense; to sit on the bench and drink Gatorade while the offense has the ball. It can’t get any simpler than that. Don’t let the other team score and you’ll be off the field, sitting down watching. If you just think about those two things, that’s a good situation. You talk about it all the time, that we want to make this game as simple as we can; that’s how you play defense. Don’t let them score and you sit on the bench while the offense has the ball.”

Those areas have been one of the biggest improvements over last season:
ML: “You go through spells of that. In another week it will be something else we’re scurrying around trying to fix. But that’s the thing, we’ve just got to keep pushing hard. Those guys have been with Mike (Zimmer) and the coaches on defense, and they understand and they do a great job in preparation of understanding their opponent. One of Mike’s emphases in training camp was to understand situational football better, to understand where we are on the field better. If there is one disappointment, it’s that we’ve given up some third-down touchdowns this year. That’s something you want to eliminate. Those are the things that he’s wanted to stress and they’ve bought in and they understand it. I don’t think we have a rookie over there (on defense), so the youngest guys are the second-year guys and the third-year guys, and that’s good. They’ve been here with Mike.”

Jack Del Rio was on your staff in Baltimore and you guys go back quite awhile. Can you talk about your relationship with him?
ML: “I think I’ve told this story a few times, but after our ’96 season in Baltimore I went to Ozzie (Newsome) and asked him if we could hire two players. One was Clay Matthews, the other was Jack Del Rio. Both retired that year. Clay went into selling cars and Jack went into coaching. When I got fired and Brian (Billick) rehired me, he said, ‘These are some of the candidates I’m thinking about.’ It was Rex (Ryan), who I had a relationship with and had talked with on the phone before anyone, and the other one was Jack. And Steve Shafer, who I used to go visit when I was coaching in college and he was coaching at the Rams. And Donnie Henderson, who I had known. Mike Smith was the only coach that I really didn’t know.

“Jack, as a player, was what I wanted to help mentor Ray (Lewis) with. I would make cut-up tapes of Jack for our linebackers in Pittsburgh – Chad (Brown) and Levon (Kirkland). If you watched Jack, you saw how you play linebacker in the NFL. And he did an excellent job coaching our guys in Baltimore. I wanted Jack to be my eyes upstairs in the press box, but Jack couldn’t stand being up there because he had to be close to the action. He had that linebacker in him, so we had to make a switch in that.

“He’s just done great (as a coach). He was a passionate player, and as everyone knows, he had his moments about everything. That’s the way he coaches. He lets his feelings be known.”

You have a lot of connections with the Jacksonville coaching staff, with guys like Mike Sheppard (former Bengals WRs coach)and Jack Del Rio …
ML: “Last week we played Chan (Gailey). Chan and I played some golf this summer together. That’s the way it is now and that’s good. Jimmy Harbaugh, two weeks ago, I was giving him some (impressions of) coach (Ted) Marchibroda out there on the field before the game and he turned and looked and started laughing. You have some relationships with these guys. But this week it’s an important game for us, an important game for them, and we’ve got to be ready to go.”

Brian Leonard has come off the bench and been a productive player for you:
ML: “I wouldn’t necessarily say Brian comes off the bench. I think Brian is a starting player; it just depends on what personnel we have on the field, because in some of the personnel groups he’s a starting player. He’s an integral part of our offensive team, and our football team for that matter. He’s one of our core special teams guys. He has a great understanding. He helps other people play at a higher level because of his preparation on teams and helps mentor the young guys that way. And then obviously there’s the roles he fills on offense as a third-down receiver, as a protector. There are different personnel groups where he is the starting player. He plays fullback. He does a lot of things. He’s got a lot of skills.

“We obviously felt a lot about him to re-sign him during the offseason. We traded for him originally. We really like Brian, and it’s always great to see a guy who goes out and works hard and contributes like he has. I think last year, when he hurt his foot early in the season, he never quite got back to the guy we had in ’09. It’s good to see the things he’s doing this year.”



What stands out about Jacksonville's defense?
AD: “They do a lot of things right. They make you make a mistake. I think their mentality is to make you have long drives, make you make a mistake. They've done a good job of that so far.”

You and Blaine Gabbert are both rookie QBs from this year’s draft class. How well do you know him?
AD: “I knew Blaine, I guess, going into my senior year. We both worked the Elite 11 camp, so I got to know him then and kind of kept in touch with him last year, especially going through all the draft stuff. We got to be good friends.”

What are his strengths?
AD: “He's a big guy, got a strong arm. He's a smart player. I don't think he'd be starting right now if they didn't have a lot of confidence in him.”

Do you keep in touch with him, or is there too much going on?
AD: “There's a lot going on for each of us, so I haven't talked to him since. I'm sure I'll talk to him this week.”

Do you keep track of the other rookie QBs from your draft class?
AD: “I follow them just because I've watched them play in college and now I'm watching them play (in the NFL). I see what Cam (Newton) is doing, and now that Blaine's playing, it's kind of the three of us going. We’ll see if anybody else gets in.”

Do you see yourself competing with those guys?
AD: “Everything's kind of a competition. But I like to just watch them just because they were my class and see how well they're doing and see the things they're doing. I think that's what makes it fun, just coming in together and seeing how we're each progressing and getting better each week.”

A quarter of the way into the season, how would you assess your performance?
AD: “I feel like I've done some good things, and there's still a lot of room for improvement. The big thing I'm trying to take, with the experience I've had so far, are the things I've made mistakes on and just trying to get better and not make the same mistake twice.”

How much does it help a rookie quarterback having a defense ranked No. 1?
AD: “It's been great. Our defense has done a really good job. That's why we've been in games – they’ve been playing really well. In the fourth quarter we've had a chance to win the game and they've made big plays. It's great from an offensive standpoint to have a defense like that.”

Do you feel yourself and your confidence growing from week to week, with every pressure situation you encounter?
AD: “I feel like the more I'm playing, the more comfortable I'm getting. I feel like I'm getting better. I need to put a full game together and play well the entire time. I've had some mistakes early on. I've got to eliminate those.”

You held on to the ball and ran more last week. Does that come naturally for you?
AD: “It's pretty natural. I did a lot of running in college. It's just finding the different lanes for me to step in, get a couple yards, get a first down, do the little things that are going to help keep drives alive and keep the offense on the field.”

Have you mastered the hook slide? The one you had in preseason wasn't too good:
AD: “(Laughs) Hopefully I'll get a lot better at that. That wasn't my best slide I've ever had.”

What's the difference between having happy feet and taking advantage of a good running opportunity?
AD: “A lot of it is what the coverage tells you, if you can slide one way and still have time to throw, or realizing that the pocket's broken down and getting out. It's just trying to have an understanding of when you can make a play standing in there and when you need to get out.”

How do you think you did with that?
AD: “I thought I did a good job. I'm sure there's a couple of times when I could have hung in there just a little bit longer, but for the most part, I was able to get on the outside and make some plays, get first downs and get extra yards.”

Was your touchdown run designed?
AD: “Yeah. It's something we saw on film and we were able to take advantage of it.”

What does getting Bobbie Williams back do for the offense?
AD: “It's going to mean a lot. He's played well and he's been around for a long time. He helps with the chemistry and the experience, so we're happy to have him back.”

A.J. Green has that ability to go up and get the ball. When you see single coverage on him, is it almost automatic that you go to him?
AD: “I've said all along, he can do a lot of really good things. You've just got to give him a chance to make the play. More likely than not, he's going to make it. Whenever we see single coverage on him, we definitely take a look at it.”

You had big a play where you rolled out of the pocket and hit Jermaine Gresham, who it looked like had broken off his route. Did that play signify that you guys are getting on the same wavelength?
AD: “He did a good job in the scramble drill. The pocket broke down there. I was able to get outside. He was the only one on that side of the field. He came across the face of his guy and got open. I just tried to give him a shot out there.”

So Gresham did break off his route?
AD: “He did. He broke off the route and made a big play.”

How good is Gresham against 1-on-1 coverage?
AD: “He's really talented. We’ve had two really good No. 1 picks last couple of years. We definitely find matchups with him, and he's done a good job. You see the catch he made in the end zone on the touchdown, going up and getting that one. He can do a lot of good things.”

That ball also was pretty well-thrown:
AD: “Well, I was just trying to give him a chance to catch it.”

How much does it help having a TE like Gresham who can stretch the field?
AD: “It's great. We don't have to have (wide) receivers on the field to really get down the field. We can leave him in the game. We can get matchups with him because sometimes they'll put linebackers on him, or safeties, all that kind of stuff. We just try to find the best matchups we can with him.”

REY MAUALUGA (with Jacksonville media)


On if he’s surprised or disappointed that they’re 2-2:
RM: “Surprised? Not at all. Disappointed? Yes, because I think we’re just trying to find our identity within the first couple of games, trying to see with the rookie quarterback we’ve got how our offense is going to come out and perform. With our defense, we got I would say five or six guys starting at different spots with myself, two new linebackers and a corner in Nate [Clements], so we’re just trying to see if everyone can mold together and become something special like we talked during camp. Against Denver and the 49ers I think we left some plays out there on the field and they’re two games that we think we should have won and we just didn’t quite finish in the fourth quarter like we wanted to. The team that plays the best in the fourth quarter I think wins the ball game. When you give up turnovers or big plays or you don’t make a tackle when you should, you give an opportunity to the other team to win the game.”

On how he evaluates his season so far from a personal standpoint:
RM: “I feel like I’m progressing, progressing as a leader, progressing as a player. I just had to get my feet wet and see what I needed to work on and improve. The first couple of games I started off slow, but I think as games went on and as comfortable as I became I started to play with more awareness and I started to play a little better. My job is to line everybody up and make sure we get the call in the huddle and play football. I can’t start thinking too much and second-guessing myself, so I think I’m improving and getting better as the weeks go on.”

On if he’s feeling more comfortable at MLB after being on the outside:
RM: “Definitely, because it makes me more aware of what the outside linebackers are doing. It gets me to play faster, knowing that I already know the responsibilities of what I have to do at the SAM, so it makes me think twice as fast. It makes me know the defense twice as much and it’s just a sense of comfort that I have in the middle that makes me allowed to play with a better awareness.”

On the challenge of Maurice Jones-Drew:
RM: “He’s not as big as far as height. He’s a short, swift, quick back. He has big legs, he can run on contact so we’ve got to bring our pads underneath ourselves. We just got to gang tackle this guy. He’s going to be catching balls out of the backfield; he’s going to be running in-between the tackles and we just have to come with the awareness that he’s going to do a bunch of crazy things that we haven’t quite seen yet in our first four games. We just got to eliminate him from the ball game as far as tackling, make sure to keep our eyes on him and get Jacksonville to throw the ball. So I think if we eliminate the running game, eliminate Maurice from the passing game as well then we’ve got a chance.”

On what he’s seen from Blaine Gabbert:
RM: “He’s an accurate quarterback. He’s not afraid to throw the ball in the seams, he’s not afraid to make passes and the thing about him is they’re a big screen team, so with double screens he’ll check one side knowing if that’s gone he’s going to gun it and throw it to the other side with confidence knowing that his receiver’s going to be there at the right spot to catch the ball. He’s not afraid to, if nothing is there to throw; he’s going to run out of the pocket and try to get to the first down. Rookie quarterbacks are going to make mistakes, we know that but with his confidence level, it looks like it’s there. Our game plan on him as far as what we got today is he’s an excellent quarterback as far as reading his routes and getting the ball to where he needs to get to.”

On if holding teams to less than 100 yards rushing is a team goal or if it has just happened:
RM: “That’s our mindset with our defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. He’s obviously coached some top-ranked defenses in his career with Dallas and what not. Basically everything feeds off of him and our group and our defensive meeting room. If we hone in as one and say that we can do it and we can become something special then I think that’s all it takes. Everyone looks to the left, looks to the right and when it gets everybody on the same page then the sky is the limit for us. The scary thing about it is throughout the first four games we’ve made mistakes here and there. If we eliminate those mistakes and we eliminate the big plays that we’ve given up, this defense could be scary.”

On the challenge with Maurice Jones-Drew averaging over 100 yards:
RM: “Most definitely. We had a big challenge last week as far as the running backs averaging 6.5 and 5.4 [yards per carry]. I think we stepped up to the challenge and did a good job of being fundamentally sound and our gaps, running to the football and tackling. With this week, knowing Maurice Jones-Drew and how good he is, we’ve just got to make sure to not get one person on the tackle, but to have as many hats as we can to fly to him and make sure to get him on the ground by every means possible. Shoe tackling, going for his legs, tacking him up high but we’ve got to have more than one or two people on him.”

On if they take pride in having the number one ranked defense in the NFL right now:
RM: “Not really. Coach Zimmer calls it mousetraps, don’t bite on the cheese, don’t buy into the hype, don’t buy into what everyone is saying. Everyone was counting us out as being the worst team in the NFL. We don’t buy into all of that. We just control what we can control. That’s just playing fast, disciplined, effort defense and flying to the ball. I think if everyone has the mindset to just keep doing what we’ve been doing, don’t buy into what everyone is saying. I know that’s a good statistic, but then again it’s only been four games. When 16 games are done and that statistic is still the same then that’s something to be happy about and we’d take pride in that. It’s still too early in season and we’re just going to keep going.”

On any concerns playing in the heat of Florida:
RM: “Not really. We’ve had camps out here that have been 100 plus degrees with the humidity 90 plus percent, so we kind of know how it feels to play in that sort of environment. We went to Denver and had, I don’t know, where it was so hard to breathe because of the altitude, but I think everyone will be ready. Everyone is taking precaution on hydrating, drinking as much fluids as we can. We’ll be prepared and ready to go.”

On not winning in Jacksonville in seven straight games:
RM: “If you didn’t tell me that I would have never known that. Like I said it’s just another statistic. I think if our team comes in and plays with intent and do what we’ve been doing, hopefully we walk off the field with a ‘W.’ That’s not in our mind, what is on our mind is another team that’s stopping us from getting to where we want to get to.”

On the Jaguars averaging less than 10 points a game and if they’re looking at this as not being the test that the Bills were:
RM: “No, every game is a test for us, whether we can get better in certain areas of our play and for our defense, it’s just a chance for us to go out there and improve. Improve off of last week; get better as a group, a unit. Everyone has been playing great on the defensive side so we’re trying to keep up the good work and trying to not buy off of what everyone is saying. If everyone does it will hit us off of our mark going into the game. Everyone will be too confident and what not. I think if we just continue to keep doing what we’re doing we should be fine.”

MARVIN LEWIS (with Jacksonville media)


Do you and Coach Del Rio talk much?
ML: It’s the second time in three weeks that he’s coached against one of the old Baltimore coaches.) “Yeah, I know. We talked during training camp and towards the end of camp and so forth. That’s the last time we spoke this year. We’ll talk more after this week.”

Are you and Coach Del Rio the ultimate survivors when you look at NFL coaches nowadays, there’s not a lot of patience with them and you guys have managed to last nine years with two playoff appearances each?
ML: “I guess so. We’re still doing it and still doing it at the same places. As I got to see last year, not many people get to start over like I did last year, or this year I mean, coming in and basically starting from scratch. And I told our players that last year at the end of the year that if I made the decision to come back that they would see a new-look football team, and as they look around they see that and so that’s a good thing and it’s a positive. Most times coaches have to go to another club in order to have a new beginning and I was able to do that here.”

What did you change? What is the new look?
ML: “We’ve changed offensively, we’ve changed people, we’ve changed the look of the football team. We’ve gotten a lot younger. We’ve done a lot of things, kind of had check list of things that I wanted to make sure we got done and Mike (Brown) and I have spent a lot of time talking about it and we’ve been able to accomplish all those things because they were a lot in line, particularly the get-young part, is in line with the way he sees it.”

Was Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens leaving one of those additions by subtraction type of thing?
ML: “Terrell was a free agent and we were able to trade Chad just because we had some guys who were younger and emerging and we wanted to give them an opportunity to play. They got to play at the end of last year and we just felt like it was a good thing to continue to progress with them and give them an opportunity. So it worked out well for both groups and we’re in good position now.”

Any other key things you changed on the team?
ML: “I felt like we had to go get two cornerbacks and we went and got Nate Clements and Kelly Jennings, and that was going to be important. I felt like we had to get linebackers; we went and signed two new linebackers. We got two new linebackers in here and we brought one of our other ones back, and we made the transition that we tried to go a year ago with Rey Maualuga to the middle. I felt like we wanted to get (Jonathan) Fanene and that would help us in the rotation defensive line-wise. We had hoped to get another guy in the draft; we weren’t able to do that. We got another young linebacker in the draft.  We wanted to get two younger (guys) in the secondary. We got two safeties to go along with Reggie (Nelson) who we traded for last year.  So we wanted to kind of morph the football team a little bit get bigger, faster and younger at the same time and we were able to do that.”

The news clips say an indoor practice facility was on your wish list. How does that stand?
ML: “You shouldn’t never say ‘what you read in the clips’ because I’ve never said that to anyone publicly, and so again that’s people interpretation of things all the time. As we know not everything you can read is totally 100% part of something that comes off my lips. But to answer your question, that’s one of the things that’s in the works here, so we’ll get to that at some point here.”

It is in the works?
ML: “Yeah, it’s something that they’re in the process of trying to make some movement on at some point and when it happens, it happens and we’ll go from there. The good thing is other than some rain, our weather is pretty good here.”

Also in the clips Mike Brown is quoted as saying he doesn’t dictate to you, you have a lot of control. Is that true?
ML: “He doesn’t tell me who to play, when to play them and things like that and so we work well together.  At the end he gets to make the final call on who we pick in the draft and so forth, so it’s my job to make sure that the players that when we turn in that name they fit the things that I want to do on the football team. And so that’s my job and if we ever don’t agree 100% that prior to the draft I get our guys in line so he understands why I prefer player A to player B, and then we go from there. And once we pick them he’s a Cincinnati Bengal and we don’t care who’s, was it the guy he prefers or the guy I prefer, it’s the guy we picked.”

Do you have to convince Mike Brown to take player A if you want player A?
ML: “That’s between Mike and I.”

With you and Coach Del Rio it seems like the loyalty with the owner has been a big deal. How important is that?
ML: “I can’t speak for Mr. (Wayne) Weaver. I know him and I think he’s a fine man and I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve had a chance to visit with him and I know Jack feels that way of the loyalty that Mr. Weaver has shown him and so forth. What I can speak from is Mike Brown. Mike grew up as coach’s son and so he’s very respectful of the coaches here, and anybody that’s ever coached here knows that and they have a great affection for him that way and he is very loyal to the coaches and he wants to do the things that help the coaches be successful. And that’s important to him, and if he could tell me to send all the coaches home at eight o’clock that’s what we would do, but that’s just the way he feels. So we have a good environment here.  It’s a good working environment and he thinks very highly of the coaches. He thinks of them of members almost of his family.”

When you were hired in Baltimore as a coordinator, is it true you wanted to bring Coach Del Rio in as a player?
ML: “I did after we drafted Ray (Lewis). We drafted Ray in ’96 and prior to the ’97 season I went to Ozzie (Newsome) and said, ‘I would like to bring in one of two linebackers, either Clay Matthews or Jack Del Rio,’ and they both ended up retiring after those seasons. Jack went to, I think, be an assistant strength coach with the Saints. But when I was the linebacker coach with the Steelers I used to make cut-up tapes to show our linebackers that this is how you play the game from Jack’s time in Minnesota.”

Did you ever call Jack and try to talk him out of retirement?
ML: “No, I didn’t.”

Do you have the say on who the assistant coaches are?
ML: “Yes.”

In the clips there was some debate about whether or not you wanted (Bob) Bratkowski or not:
ML: “No, I actually helped Bob get the job in Pittsburgh when they got let go in Seattle, with Bill Cowher, and then when I came here and Bob was here which was a good fit and we went from there. Bob did great things for our offense here.”

Did you decide it was time for a change with the coordinators?
ML: “I felt like it was time for a change and wanted to change philosophies a little bit and so we were able to do that. It’s an unfortunate thing anytime you have to let them, someone that’s you’re very close to and make that change, that’s hard.”

What’s the new philosophy on your offense?
ML: “It’s important to me that we continue to mesh the run and the pass together.  There are some weeks were you’ve got to go in and run in and run it 40 times and some weeks we may have to throw it 40 times. But I want to make sure that they fit together well in our base downs and that we can incorporate young players, get young players going and up to speed very quickly, and that’s the challenge I have for our coaches all the time. You can’t have young players sit around in the NFL, you have to get them out there and get them going the way the NFL is today. That’s why the draft is so important that we draft guys that fit what we do and that we can know and we can get them out on that field and be productive players as quick as possible.”

On Andy Dalton’s development:
ML: “We’ve been very, just very pleased. Andy has been just what we expected. He shows maturity beyond his years, a calmness, and he’s done very, very well.”

Did you turn down a contract extension a year ago?
ML: “Yes.”

What changed your mind?
ML: “Mike and spoke about the contract after the season previous and then early last fall. We just didn’t come to an agreement at that point and so we were able to come to an agreement after the end of the season.”

From a coaching standpoint, do you worry about the game day attendance at all?
ML: Sometimes there’s a feeling, “Well, fans aren’t coming, we have to change something,” and it’s easy to change the coach.) “I can’t change that and nor can I worry about that.”

Regarding Cedric Benson, is no news good news anyway?
ML: “It’s unfortunate for Ced that this thing number one became something that was public. He was handling it better when no one else knew about it but us, and now that it’s become a public thing, it’s like the Ced watch and where’s Waldo? But at some point it’ll come to a resolution one way or another and then he’ll have to deal with whatever it is, or maybe there is nothing because he’s already been through this and so we’ll see what comes of it. But obviously it’ll be now somewhere beyond this week and into next week.”

Because once you get to Wednesday if you haven’t heard anything you can assume that he won’t be available?
ML: “Correct.”

There’s this image you’ve brought in some guys who have had off-the-field problems. Do you think you did?
ML: “Who are you referring to?”

Haven’t you had a few guys that have had off the field problems?
ML: “Who are you referring to? I’m not going to write your question for you. You have to be a little specific.”

On Chris Henry:
ML: “Chris Henry didn’t have any off-the-field problems at West Virginia. He did some things that probably he wished he hadn’t done, but again at the end of the day he got here and after his rookie year he had some issues, no doubt about it, and then fortunately he got his life turned around and was doing everything the right way when unfortunately he lost his life.”

Have you talked to Carson Palmer lately?
ML: “Are you kidding me?”

Did you talk to him in the offseason?
ML: “I talked to Carson in February.”

That was the last time?
ML: “That was the last time.”

Did he say why he wasn’t coming back?
ML: “No. He said he was unhappy and that he felt like he wanted to retire.”

You don’t think he’s ready to retire, do you?
ML: “I do because he has no choice. He has a contract here. If you don’t want to play then you don’t play. You don’t get to control in professional sports where you play.”

Will you go through a few things mechanically that it’s hard for a rookie quarterback to learn or that they have to figure out before they can become professional at the NFL level?
ML: “I think, and I do think this is changing, I think there was a difference between some of the things the quarterbacks were seeing in college football compared to what they were seeing from NFL defenses. I would say right now at the higher levels of college football that both Blaine (Gabbert) played at and Andy (Dalton) played at, they’re seeing these looks very similar to their seeing now in the NFL. So I think that transition has made it a little bit easier and I think that’s important. As I went back and studied Matt Ryan, as I studied (Joe) Flacco and those guys, because we didn’t do a lot of work on them coming out, and so when I wanted to go back and look at them in their senior season and junior season at respective schools and watch the evolution of how they played compared to how they did as rookies and so forth. And so I think that’s where these guys now are coming in the NFL and they’re a little bit more suited to playing because they’ve seen that. They’ve played in offenses where they threw the ball quite a bit, and different than like when we drafted Carson in ’03, and so there’s a change that way. The toughest thing for a rookie quarterback is what he sees in third downs from the NFL defenses. These guys were playing in third down offenses their entire careers and so I think that has made the transition a little smoother, a little easier. But that’s probably the thing, the difference is the changes in the things that you see in third down defense from pressure to coverage to disguise to what it looks like to what it actually is.”

How did you turn Reggie Nelson into a productive player?
ML: When he was in Jacksonville he wasn’t very productive.) “Those are my friends down there in Jacksonville from all the way through the organization. We felt like Reggie could help us as a player. We both were in a position, they were in need of a corner, we  were in need of a safety, we felt like we had a surplus of corners and we were able to make the trade with David Jones and Reggie Nelson. And I think both clubs benefited for what they were looking for.  We felt good about Reggie coming out that year in the draft when he was drafted. Reggie is still a young player, he’s still a work in progress and we coach his tail off every single day, and that’s all we can do. The one thing that was said from the people in Jacksonville (was) that you probably want to put him in one spot and leave him there, and we’ve tried to that with him. I think it was a move that was good for both teams.”

He had a chance here; it just didn’t work out for whatever reason:
ML: “That happens. It happens to a lot of guys but it doesn’t change their ability.”

Sometimes change of scenery works out:
ML: “It works out.  That street is cold.”

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